Detailed molecular analysis of three wild-derived MHC haplotypes provided evidence for an important role of the E beta recombinational hot spot in the recent evolution of the mouse I region. Examination of RFLP and restriction maps of cloned DNA permitted the mapping of the natural cross-over events in the haplotypes carried by strains B10.GAA37 (w21) and B10.KPB128 (w19) to a fragment of DNA not exceeding 4.1 kb, which lies almost entirely within the intron separating the beta 1 and beta 2 exons of the E beta gene. In the w14 haplotype (strain B10.STC77), which appears to be a natural recombinant between a p-like parental haplotype and another wild-derived haplotype, the site of crossing over can be mapped to a segment between the beta 2 exon of the E beta gene (left border) and the E beta 2 gene (right border). This segment containing the cross-over site in the w14 haplotype includes the E beta hot spot. In addition, the w14 haplotype as well as the standard p haplotype contain a deletion of approximately 1.0 kb in the second intron of the E beta gene, which may represent the product of an unequal cross-over event in a E beta recombinational hot spot.

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